Ask a skin-care-obsessive what they yearn for every time they pat on a face oil or massage in a serum, and chances are glowing skin will be at the top of their wish list. Waking up to radiant, refreshed skin even before applying makeup is nothing short of a dream, inspiring the most adventurous of beauty gurus to slather on obscure ingredients (snail slime, blue-green algae, cork extracts, the list goes on), all in the hopes of attaining that coveted, youthful glow. 

And now, there’s a new up-and-coming nutrient to add to the mix—it’s time to talk ceramides. 

First, what are ceramides?

You might have heard of this nutrient before, as it’s been used topically for people with super-dry skin or conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

“Ceramides have been used topically for a long time,” says Robert Rountree, M.D., on the health news podcast. “They are special lipids in the outer layer of the skin, used to protect the skin barrier and keep moisture in.” Which is exactly why, Rountree explains, these ceramides (also known as ceramosides or phytoceramides, depending on the setting) are routinely prescribed in doctors’ offices. 

But even if you don’t suffer from eczema or psoriasis, ceramides still matter: We lose them as we age, which contributes to dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles as we get older. That said, ceramides are crucial for keeping your skin supple and hydrated. And, according to Rountree, there are a couple of ways you can use them to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount.

In addition to applying topicals, there’s another way you can reap the benefits of ceramides (a perfect solution for the beauty junkie who already has an extensive skin care routine). The secret, Rountree says, is to take them by mouth. 

“We get ceramides in our food. Cereal grains, like wheat, have ceramides in them,” Rountree explains. 

So, we’ve known that this dietary form of the nutrient exists in our food system—but scientists have discovered that ingesting them orally can offer those same skin-healing benefits as a prescription topical. 

“Research shows that when you take these things by mouth—and you don’t need many milligrams of them—your body actually incorporates them into the skin,” says Rountree. 

Think of it as the ceramides locking in moisture from the inside out, at the cellular level—a science we at health news are certainly behind.

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So how should you really use ceramides?

The short answer—it depends. If you suffer from a super-dry condition like eczema or psoriasis, you could get a prescription from your doctor and apply the formula topically. As always, it’s best to consult your dermatologist before starting any treatments, especially if you suffer from a chronic skin condition.

But if you don’t have one of those conditions, and you just want to optimize radiant skin no matter your age, you could ingest ceramides orally and let the nutrient do its work from the inside out. Take it from Rountree, who states, “We can take ceramides by mouth and get that same effect.” 

So whether it’s upping your intake of cereal grains (rice and eggs have ceramides, too!) or supplementing with the nutrient itself, youthful, hydrated skin is in your future. Is this what it means to truly glow from within? 

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with health news’s top doctors.

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